Editors note: the posts in this series are excerpts from Jason’s field notes.
Day 1 — 20180727: We packed up carefully in the early morning and headed into Cottonwood Basin. All limestone up here. Saw a coyote right at the start, “leading” us to the start of the ridge descent. We found a nice population of what might be Caloplaca parviloba just as we reached the first meadows at the bottom. We found some nice Caloplaca tominii in the main meadow, which seems to be recovering nicely, with hardly any sign of the trails or grazing which I remember from 20 years ago. We decided this would be a good place to periodically monitor soil crust communities with a drone.
We stopped for a long break at the junction with Cottonwood Creek. I scrambled up a nearby granite outcrop and found nice populations of Letharia, Candelariella xanthostigma, Lecanora cenisia and even some Parmeliopsis ambigua on bristlecone wood. Nastassja wrote poems and painted while recovering from a horrible headache. We later followed a rough trail up Cottonwood Creek, that was perhaps an Indian trail, as there was no sign of markers on the trees, and the trail was quite overgrown and disappeared in many places, despite being very well developed in others.
As the day neared an end, we set up camp at end of a 4WD road at the upper end of Cottonwood Creek. Someone had set up a cute little raised gravel campsite. Thunderstorms threatened, but never actually broke. Meanwhile we wandered about the meadows in the area, Nastassja painted stone people while I looked around for lichens. There was a nice population of Cladonia pyxidata and what looked like a weird parasitic Lecanora sp. apparently growing on Caloplaca adnexa. A short walk in distance today, but a good warm up to acclimatize to the altitude. Chilly night; I cuddled with Marvin to try to keep him warm.